If you think back five years ago, did you do online shopping? The majority of people were uncomfortable with the idea of inputting their credit card online, for fear of identity theft or fraud. These days, it’s rare to find individuals who aren’t comfortable with purchasing goods online, especially with the rise and popularity of online secure checkouts, such as PayPal. Even with the rise of streaming and app purchases, consumers are more and more willing to use the internet to make purchases. Online shopping is a huge industry. Amazon reported $34 billion in e-commerce sales last year, while Wal-Mart earned $6 billion. With Amazon’s focus on its release of its tablet, this is giving room for another company to take the throne to become the next technology giant. It has been reported that Wal-Mart has put together a team of 70 developers, computer engineers and researchers – @WalmartLabs – in an aggressive attempt to position itself at the forefront of social and mobile commerce. It is expected that within the next two to three years, there will be a definite blur between offline and online shopping. The trend is expected to be that products viewed both online and offline will offer information such as: who else likes this product, what are the reviews, the people who bought this product what else did they buy. Wal-Mart is attempting to provide one experience for both online and offline shoppers. The search for all goods, whether electronics or fashion, will have to be perfected. The largest focus of @WalmartLabs’ will be creating what has been deemed a “social genome.” Facebook has emphasized the social existence and discount sites has revolutionized social buying. It is expected that consumers will demand that social media is incorporated in their shopping experience, both online and offline. @WalmartLabs is planning to launch something similar to an in-store Twitter in the next three to four months. This will allow customers to tweet about what they like, or what’s on sale. Additionally, they can ask where something is or a question about a product, and an associate will answer. Shopycat, a Facebook application, uses social media profiles and comments to generate gift ideas, will launch in the US right before Christmas. It will help give you ideas that will make purchasing gifts easier. Buzz created via social media will give Wal-Mart information about “it” items – i.e. when they should stock products related to basketball. The company can look at buzz generated on social media and this will be an indication of when to stock these products. It will be interesting to see how Wal-Mart revolutionizes the online shopping experience. Remember that this retail hegemony was one of the first to implement and perfect one-stop shopping.
October 5, 2011 By